Monday 26 May 2014

A "remarkable" result for the SNP

The Scottish National Party – another of MK’s sister parties in the European Free Alliance – has also achieved a strong showing in the European elections in Scotland

The SNP topped the poll with 28.9% of the vote, and MEPs Ian Hughton and Alyn Smith both retained their seat in the European Parliament, though the Party sadly missed out on a third seat which went to UKIP.

SNP Leader and First Minister Alex Salmond described the result as “remarkable” with the SNP “winning another national election after seven years in Government.”

He added: "It is a real vote of confidence in the SNP Government and a result that the Westminster parties would have bitten your arm off for.

"UKIP's performance has shown the real and increasing threat to Scotland's place in the EU that comes from being part of the Westminster system. But in Scotland UKIP have come fourth with only around a third of the vote they got in the rest of the UK, where they won the election, and only around 3% of Scotland's electorate backing them - despite the wall to wall media coverage of UKIP that has been beamed into Scotland.”

Congratulations to Jill Evans MEP

Plaid Cymru – one of MK’s sister parties in the European Free Alliance – has retained its seat in the European Parliament, with their list headed by Jill Evans, with 15.3% of the Welsh vote.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM was rightly delighted that Wales had “returned its most effective representative to the European Parliament” in a “difficult electoral context.”

She added that: “I am proud of the teams of dedicated party members who worked hard across the country to spread Plaid Cymru's message of hope.”

Well done to Jill and Plaid Cymru. 

Comment on the European election results

Last night, six MEPs were elected to represent the “South West” – two UKIP, two Conservatives, one Labour and one Green. The Liberal Democrat MEP lost his seat, while the Conservatives also lost one MEP.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I voted Green at this election and I would like to congratulate Molly Scott Cato on her election.

The full result in Cornwall - about one-tenth of the constituency - was as follows:

1. UKIP – 53,943 (up from 39,954 in 2009)
2. Conservative Party – 37,698 (down from 46,589)
3. Liberal Democrats – 17,840 (down from 29,436)
4. Green Party – 16,398 (up from 13,361)
5. Labour Party – 16,122 (up from 8,483)
6. An Independence from Europe – 2,530
7. English Democrats – 1,323 (down from 1,781)
8. BNP – 1,106 (down from 5,118)

Obviously Mebyon Kernow was not standing due to the nature of the constituency, which stretched to Wiltshire and also included Gilbraltar. Based on the results of the last election, we estimated that MK would have needed to poll over 90% of the Cornish vote to win a seat but suggested that it might be that every single vote in Cornwall might not be enough.

The reality is that in the 2014 election, a total of 146,960 valid votes were cast in Cornwall, while the Lib Dems failed to secure a seat after polling 160,376 votes across the “South West.”

It is difficult to speculate how MK might have polled in such an uncertain political atmosphere, and we must focus on those coming elections in which we will be standing in the near-future. This starts with the Cornwall Council by-election contest at Illogan. 

Friday 23 May 2014

Dr Loveday Jenkin to contest Camborne and Redruth

I am delighted that Dr Loveday Jenkin has been selected to contest the Camborne and Redruth seat for Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall in the 2015 General Election.

Loveday says that she was “extremely proud” to have been chosen to present MK’s positive message to the people of Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.

She has also told local members: “The coming parliamentary election offers a wonderful opportunity for local people to put Cornwall on the map by electing a Mebyon Kernow MP. I believe that the only way to improve issues in this constituency and Cornwall is to vote for an independently-minded MK Member of Parliament, determined to speak up for the best interests of Cornwall at every opportunity.

“I can assure one and all that a vote for MK is a vote against the political system in London  and a vote for what is best for the people of Cornwall.”

For full details about Loveday’s candidacy, see the Mebyon Kernow website at

Thursday 22 May 2014

Vandalism at Indian Queens Pit

It is with great sadness that I have to report that Indian Queens Pit has been vandalised for the second time in a month. I am proud to be a trustee of the Pit, which is protected as a Scheduled Monument, and I am very disappointed that the stonework around the platform has been deliberately damaged again (see below). The stones were also covered with broken glass.

Also on Sunday, one of the Parish Council’s seats was dragged into the Pit and set on fire (see below).

This criminal damage has been reported to the Police, but if anyone has any information about who might be responsible, please feel free to get in contact with me. 

Saturday 17 May 2014

Time for rent controls

My article in last week’s Cornish Guardian, focused on housing and the need for rent controls in the private sector. It was as follows.

Fifteen years ago, at the turn of the millennium, it was possible to buy a new two-bedroom house in my home parish for under £50,000, or a three-bedroom house for under £60,000. Rents in the private sector were also much more reasonable.

Since then, the housing market – both for purchase and rent – has become truly dysfunctional. House prices pretty much tripled in the decade after 2000, while the cost of renting in the private sector also exploded.

In comparison, wage increases have been very limited and the gap between household incomes and the cost of putting a roof over one’s head has become so much greater.

Shelter and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation take the view that spending more than one third of disposable income on rent or a mortgage means that individuals or families may not be able to afford their other basic needs. In 2011, Shelter did a survey and estimated that – based on their model – 85% of private rents in the South West were unaffordable.

It is little wonder that the number of people in work who claim housing benefit to meet their monthly rent payments has rocketed by 59 per cent since the Coalition came to power.

It has long been my view that we need to reintroduce rent controls in the private sector and I am pleased that Labour leader Ed Miliband has joined the debate and is considering support for a cap on rent rises and measures to combat excessive rents.

But somewhat predictably, Conservative opponents slammed his comments as being “anti-business” and misrepresented rent controls as being some sort of “soviet-style” intervention.

I have no sympathy for those people who desire to protect the present dysfunctional housing market.

I also have no sympathy for the Conservative MP – who has been a persistent critic of the welfare state, even condemning it as a “something for nothing culture” – has recently been exposed as the director of an estate which pocketed £120,000 in housing benefit from his local council.

I have more sympathy with a critic of the MP, who was quick to point out the hypocrisy of the situation: “How dare [he] lecture us about ‘something for nothing’ when he is living off the poorest and milking taxpayers all the way to the bank? It’s not tenants who gain from housing benefit, but some of the richest people in Britain. They get richer at our expense – and blame us while they’re at it.”

More powers must be about democracy

I have not blogged for a few days and think it is time to post my recent articles in the Cornish Guardian. This one appeared on the 7th March.

Following the fantastic news that the Government has confirmed the Cornish will be recognised as a national minority through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection for National Minorities (FCNM), talk is already turning to the “devolution” to Cornwall.

Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury – who announced national minority status on the 24th April – has also confirmed that the Government would “take seriously” any bid from Cornwall to control the next tranche of European funding which will be worth more than £500 million.

He apparently urged MPs to work with the Local Enterprise Partnership to make the case for greater local autonomy as “part of the growth deal process.” He is reported as saying said that, following the FCNM announcement, “it would seem odd not to take seriously the request that there should be a degree of autonomy in the management of the European structural funds programme.”

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has “called for a proportionate administration” and “for bureaucratic red tape to be reduced wherever possible under the next EU programme,” while there is an ongoing effort to give Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly some form of “intermediary body” status, which could allow local representatives to deal direct with EU officials.

Local MPs have called for “those charged with managing the Cornwall EU structural fund programme” to be “granted the appropriate delegated powers.”

Meanwhile, one of Mr Alexander’s ministerial colleagues, the Conservative Greg Clark (Cities and the Constitution) recently told a local newspaper that there is an “appetite” to devolve powers to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

He was also even quoted as saying that “Cornwall is a place … that exemplifies par excellence my view that the people that know best what is needed for the area are the people who live and work there.”

But there was little detail related to Clark’s statement other than – like Mr Alexander – it was in the context of “growth deals” and largely related to the Local Enterprise Partnership, which is an unelected body.

I remain extremely concerned that this present debate around more powers for Cornwall appears to have little or nothing to do with democracy and democratically elected politicians. Surely, this has to change.

I believe that central government needs to go much further in terms of the devolution of political and economic powers – and this should lead to the establishment of a Cornish Assembly.

Saturday 3 May 2014

A meeting with Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party

Last week, I was very pleased to meet Natalie Bennett (above right), the leader of the Green Party, when she was visiting Cornwall as part of the Green’s European election campaign. It was also nice to reacquaint myself with Emily McIvor (above left), one of the Green Party’s candidates for the European Parliament, who I have campaigned with in the past.

I found Natalie to be warm and very genuine, and we certainly discussed a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues, including the need for democratic reform and the devolution of political power to Cornwall.

I am particularly pleased that she used her visit to reaffirm the Green Party’s commitment to a Cornish Assembly by backing MK’s latest petition campaign, which calls for central government to work with the people of Cornwall to work up detailed plans for a Cornish Assembly which could be put to the electorate in a binding referendum.

In the press release that they have just circulated, Natalie Bennett said:

“The Green Party is committed to the devolution of power, so that decisions get taken at the most appropriate local level.  It's for the people of Cornwall to decide in a referendum how much power they want to take back from Westminster.

“We are impressed with the collaborative approach Mebyon Kernow has taken in inviting people to join a consultation on the form an Assembly might take. They have set out their views on how an Assembly for Cornwall might work, but are also asking people to think about what they want. Our local parties in Cornwall will be taking part in the process and we urge everyone who cares about democracy to do the same.”

Thursday 1 May 2014

MK featured on short internet films

In recent weeks, I have done a lot of interviews for television, radio and also some local projects. A couple of these can now be seen on-line.

2015 How the West was Won is an initiative to create a documentary film about the 2015 General Election in Cornwall. It is being produced over the next twelve months by students at both the University of Exeter and Falmouth University. Directed by Joshua Butt, the team includes a range of researchers and interviewers from across the student body. A number of short films have already been produced. I am featured in one of these, which can be viewed at

A short film about How Scotland helps Cornish nationalism has been produced by Jamie McConkey and Victoria Scholar. It also features Liberal Democrats Danny Alexander and Stephen Gilbert – who claimed I was campaigning for Cornish independence. The film can be viewed at